Health and Safety Issues for Power Washers

In this industry, there are a number of risks and hazards power washers face on a daily basis. Let’s take a look at some of the common health and safety issues for power washers.

Health Issues Caused by Equipment

You may not think of carbon monoxide as a health and safety risk in your pressure washing business, but the use of gas powered pressure washers result in the release of CO. Proper maintenance of your equipment can ensure that no excessive carbon monoxide is being emitted, as long as the unit is used in a well ventilated area. The same advice would serve you well when working in a particularly congested area, such as a city parking garage or other enclosed space. Carbon monoxide poisoning can occur very quickly and can be hard to detect. Never use any gas powered equipment in a closed space and follow all care instructions for your specific machine.

Prolonged exposure to high decibel noise will have a damaging long term effect on hearing.  Sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even for a brief time, or when they are both loud and long-lasting. These sounds can damage sensitive structures in the inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Be sure to wear the proper protection when running your machine to prevent damaging your hearing.

Health Issues Caused by Nature

While most molds do not harm healthy people, those with allergies or asthma may be more sensitive to molds. Mold exposure can cause skin rash, runny nose, eye irritation, nasal congestion and difficulty breathing. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease, may be at increased risk. Mold can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. Typical areas prone to mold growth are wood, paper, carpet, foods and insulation. Whether you are cleaning indoor or outdoor, use a mask or respirator to protect you from breathing airborne spores. Always wear protective safety gear and clothing that can be easily cleaned or discarded. Have bystanders leave the area when cleaning and be sure to wash your hands and face after the job is completed.

Health and Safety Issues Due to Chemical Use

When using chemicals in a pressure washing environment, it is imperative to have as much information about their use, health and safety risks, dangers and disposal recommendations as possible. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health provides contractors with a guide to hazardous chemicals that should be kept on hand.

Most people use chemicals every day and they come in many forms. They can be watery or oily liquid, powder, pellets, granules, paste or invisible gas.

Some chemicals can also cause long-term health problems such as cancer, or permanent damage to the brain, nerves or lungs. Long-term problems happen after you have been regularly exposed to a chemical over time. The health problems caused by chemicals depend on: How you are exposed to a chemical. The length of exposure to the chemical. How dangerous the chemical is.

There are 3 ways a chemical can get into your body and cause harm.

  1. Skin:  You can absorb a chemical through your skin or your eyes.
  2. Air:  You can breathe in a chemical through your nose and mouth.
  3. Ingestion: You can swallow a chemical.  This usually happens when a chemical is on your hands and you touch something that goes into your mouth, for example, food or a cigarette. However, chemical dust or a splash can also get on your lips or inside your mouth.

Different chemicals are dangerous in different amounts. For some chemicals, a few minutes of exposure is not harmful, but many hours of continuous exposure is very harmful. Common health problems caused by chemicals can be irritation, allergies, asthma or other breathing problems and burns. Each person is different, some people will become ill from a chemical, and some will not.

All chemical containers should be clearly labeled with the name of the chemical and information about the known health dangers of the contents. Some companies that make chemical products also publish an information sheet for each product called a Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).  A good sheet will name all the chemicals in the product, describe how these chemicals can effects your health, tell you whether these chemicals can cause cancer or birth defects, describe protections you need to work safely with the product and how to dispose of it. By understanding what chemicals you are using, you can reduce your risk of harmful health issues.

Before you use a product, read the label carefully and follow the instructions. Pay attention to the warning labels and wear appropriate protective clothing.

For more ways to protect yourself, just call us at 1-800-878-3808 today. We have worked exclusively with mobile cleaning contractors for 40 years and know the coverages you need to keep your power washing business safe from almost anything.

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